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■ j^ Agriculture 



Canada 

Research Direction generate 
Branch de la recherche 

Contribution 1983-18E 




Crested wheatgrass 



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Crested wheatgrass 



R. P. KNOWLES 

Agriculture Canada Research Station, 
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan 

MR. KILCHER 

Agriculture Canada Research Station, 
Swift Current, Saskatchewan 



Research Branch 
Agriculture Canada 
1983 



Copies of this publication are available from: 

Dr. R. F. Knowles 

Research Station 

Research Branch, Agriculture Canada 

107 Science Cres. 

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan 

S7N 0X2 

Produced by Research Program Service 

©Minister of Supply and Services Canada 1983 



- Ill - 



CONTENTS 

Summary /Resume iv 

Introduction 1 

Adaptation 1 

Description and varieties 1 

Control of weeds 8 

Use for hay 9 

Use for pasture 9 

Response to fertilizers 11 

Seed production 12 

Renovation of old stands 16 

Regrassing abandoned farmland and depleted range ... 17 

Lawns, yards, and roadsides 18 

Acknowledgments 18 



- IV — 



SUMMARY 

Crested wheatgrass was introduced to Western Canada from Eastern Europe 
about 1900. It is particularly well adapted to the Dark Brown and 
Brown soil zones of Saskatchewan, southern Alberta, and the intermountain 
areas of British Columbia. It was widely used in the 1930s for 
reseeding badly eroded areas, and since then for hay production and for 
pasture and rangeland alone or with alfalfa. It outyields native 
grasses severalfold and is particularly useful in complementing native 
pastures, because it produces most of its growth in May and June before 
the native pasture is ready for grazing. 



RESUME 

Originaire de 1' Europe de l'est, l'agropyre a crete a fait son apparition 
dans l'ouest du Canada vers les annees 1900. II convient particulierement 
bien aux zones de sol brun fonce et brun de la Saskatchewan et du sud de 
1' Alberta, ainsi qu ' aux terres qui s'etendent entre les montagnes de la 
Colombie-Britannique. Dans les annees 1930, l'agropyre a crete etait 
communement utilise pour lutter contre 1' erosion et de nos jours, on 
le seme en champ pour son foin et en paturage ou en grand parcours, seule 
ou en association avec la luzerne. Son rendement est de loin superieur 
a celui des graminees indigenes pour lesquelles il est un complement 
utile, car sa croissance est maximale en mai et en juin, lorsque les 
plantes locales ne sont pas encore pretes a etre broutees. 



- 1 - 



INTRODUCTION 

Crested wheatgrass is a major cultivated grass in Western Canada. 
It was introduced from Eastern Europe to North America about 1900, but was 
not widely distributed in Western Canada until 1930. In the subsequent 
drought period 1931-37, it was used extensively to reseed soil-drifted 
areas and abandoned farmland. The grass has gained general acceptance as 
an excellent spring and fall pasture crop for dry areas. It is also used 
for dryland turf and roadside seedings in the dry prairie and 
intermountain areas. Seed production in Canada averaged 473 000 kg for 
the years 1975-79, with approximately 60% of this seed exported to the 
United States. 



ADAPTATION 

Crested wheatgrass is particularly well adapted to the Brown and Dark 
Brown soil zones of Saskatchewan, southern Alberta, and the intermountain 
areas of British Columbia. Yields of crested wheatgrass are comparable to 
those of other grasses in the Black soil zone, but stands do not persist 
well in this zone. It is suited to most soils, including sands and clays. 
Crested wheatgrass is not tolerant of flooding, and if submerged for 
7-10 days the subsequent yields are seriously reduced. Present strains 
are not well adapted to saline soils. Other grasses such as Russian wild 
ryegrass, Altai wild ryegrass, tall wheatgrass, and slender wheatgrass 
show more salinity tolerance. Stands of crested wheatgrass usually 
remain productive for many years. In the Brown and Dark Brown soil zones 
many stands have been maintained for 30-40 years. 



DESCRIPTION AND VARIETIES 

Crested wheatgrass is a bunch-type plant. Single plants in thin 
seedings may form large tufts 30-45 cm across. There is considerable 
variation in height and form of plants for different cultivars of 
crested wheatgrass (Fig. 1 and Table 1). The Fairway type, Agropyron 
cristatum (L.) Gaertn., is shorter and more leafy than the standard type, 
A. desertorum (Fisch.) Schult. Parkway is a taller form of the Fairway 
type. Summit and Nordan represent the standard type and are similar in 
appearance, although in the year of seeding Summit remains rosetted, 
whereas Nordan may head out. Leaves of the Fairway type characteristically 
have fine hairs or pubescence on the upper surface, whereas the leaves 
of the standard type are smooth. Nordan and Summit remain greener than 
Fairway and Parkway under severe drought. However, Fairway and Parkway 
stands last longer than those of Summit and Nordan under more moist 
conditions in the Black soil zone. 



- 2 - 




- 3 - 



Table 1. Comparison of crested wheatgrass varieties 



Feature 



Fairway type 
( Agropyron cristatum ) 



Standard type 
(Agropyron desertorum ) 



Fairway 



Parkway 



Summit 



Nordan 



Head shape 
Leaf hairs 
Plant height 
Number of seeds 

per kilogram 
Tip awns on seeds 
Heading, year 

of seeding 



Short, wide 
Upper side 
60 cm 

480 000 
Present 

Yes 



Short, wide 
Upper side 
70 cm 

480 000 
Present 

Yes 



Long, narrow Long, narrow 
Nil Nil 

71 cm 71 cm 



360 000 
Variable 

Nil 



360 000 
Usually absent 

Yes 



One of the best ways of distinguishing the two types is by head shape 
(Fig. 2). Fairway and Parkway have shorter, wider heads than Summit and 
Nordan. Spikelets on heads in Fairway and Parkway are set at a wider 
angle to the rachis. Fairway and Parkway have 14 chromosomes; Summit and 
Nordan have 28 chromosomes. The two types do not cross readily, although 
some experimental hybrids have been produced. 

Crested wheatgrass has an extensive root system, reaching a depth of 
nearly 3 m in old stands, resulting in large amounts of fiber being added 
to the soil. At Saskatoon, a 2-year-old stand produced 4 t of fiber in 
a hectare of soil to a depth of 30 cm, and about 8 t in an 8-year-old 
stand. 



The Fairway cultivar was released in Canada in 1932 and is still 
popular. It is widely grown for pasture, roadside seedings, and dryland 
turf. Parkway was selected out of Fairway as a taller type, better for 
hay, and released in 1969. Summit was released in 1953, and Summit 62, 
a reselection with somewhat better seed yields, was released in 1962. 
Summit is the highest-yielding crested wheatgrass in Canadian hay trials, 
but has lost favor because of seed-cleaning difficulties. Approximately 
50% of the florets in Summit are sterile, and these sterile florets may 
remain attached to normal seeds during cleaning. Nordan was released in 
1958 in North Dakota, USA, and is now widely grown for forage and seed in 
Canada. The total Canadian pedigreed seed area for crested wheatgrass in 
1980 was 1335 ha, with the following cultivar distribution: Nordan 45%, 
Fairway 42%, Parkway 12%, Summit 1%. Yields of forage and seed for these 
cultivars in Western Canada tests are given in Table 2. 



- A - 




Fig. 2. Heads of crested wheatgrass varieties: 
A: Fairway or Parkway; _B: Summit. (Nordan is 
similar to Summit but usually lacks tip awns.) 



- 5 - 



Table 2. Relative yields of crested wheatgrass 
varieties in Western Canada from experimental 
tests at Agriculture Canada research stations 
1976-79 

Variety Hay Seed 

Fairway 100 100 

Parkway 104 124 

Summit 110 98 

Nordan 102 102 



Time of seeding and land preparation 

In the prairie area, sow either in early spring or in late October 
just before freeze-up. Seedings in July and August increase the risk of 
loss from drought and heat damage, although in northern areas, summer 
seedings are often satisfactory. In the intermountain areas of British 
Columbia, seeding between late August and mid-October is preferred. 
Seeding in these areas between early April and mid-May also gives adequate 
stands, but higher seeding rates are required. 

Seeding may be done directly into cereal stubble immediately after 
the spring breakup. Prior land preparation to control weeds is generally 
required when seeding late in the spring. If a companion crop is used, sow 
on fallow rather than on stubble land, because this reduces competition 
for moisture. Always pack freshly worked land to prevent it from drying 
out before seeding. Packing also helps to control depth of seeding. There 
is a real danger of getting poor stands if the soil is loose. Fall seeding 
into stubble prevents loss from soil drifting. 



Depth of seeding 

Deep seeding is the most common cause of stand failure with crested 
wheatgrass. Seed should be sown 1-2 cm deep. This is particularly 
important on heavy soils. Tests on loam soils under favorable conditions 
in the greenhouse show only 25% emergence of the Fairway type when seeded 
5 cm deep, and 50% emergence of the standard type. 



Alfalfa mixtures, rates of seeding, row spacings 

For maximum production, crested wheatgrass should be grown with 
alfalfa. Grass-alfalfa mixtures yield up to two times as much as grasses 
seeded alone. Old stands of grass-alfalfa may yield four times as much as 
grass seeded alone. Competition from crested wheatgrass may eliminate 



- 6 - 



alfalfa in dry areas after a few years. Summit and Nordan, and to some 
extent Parkway, are less competitive than Fairway and allow a higher 
proportion of alfalfa in a mixture with higher yields (Tables 3 and 4) . 



Table 3. Hay yields of crested wheatgrass varieties in alfalfa mixtures, 
Saskatoon (30-cm row spacing, no fertilizer applied) 

Hay yields (t/ha) 

Test 1 Test 2 Test 3 Percentage of alfalfa 

Variety 1968-70 1969-71 1974-77 Average Average of three tests 



Fairway 
Parkway 
Summit 
Nordan 



4.37 
4.68 

4.55 
4.55 



4.24 
4.57 
4.53 
4.71 



4.84 
5.29 
5.29 
5.18 



4.48 
4.84 
4.80 
4.82 



26 
31 
47 
49 



Table 4. Hay yields of crested wheatgrass varieties in 
alfalfa mixtures, Swift Current (30-cm row spacing, 
no fertilizer applied) 





Hay 


yields (t/h; 







Variety 


Test 1 
1967-75 


Test 2 
1969-77 


Test 3 
1971-79 


Average 


Fairway 
Summit 


1.69 
1.98 


1.84 
1.99 


1.72 
1.96 


1.75 
1.98 



Experiments in the Brown and Dark Brown soil zones show that the 
yield of hay, pasture, or seed from rows spaced 60-90 cm apart is as 
much as or more than the yield from rows spaced 15-30 cm apart (Table 5). 
Wide rows allow plants to escape from drought and encourage development of 
more alfalfa in the mixture. Disadvantages of wide spacing are lower 
yields for the first year after t seeding, more difficult weed control 
initially, and an uneven surface for harvesting hay or seed. Cross 
seeding of the grass to the alfalfa is recommended for pasture in order to 
reduce competition on the alfalfa from crested wheatgrass. 



Recommended seeding rates for alfalfa mixtures are given in Table 6. 



- 7 - 



Table 5. Forage and seed yields of crested wheatgrass at various 
row spacings 



Location and soil zone 



Swift Current - Brown 



Saskatoon - Dark Brown 



Scott - Dark Brown 



Lethbridge - Dark Brown 



Melfort - Black 



Beaverlodge - Gray Wooded 



Row 


Hay 


Seed 


spacing (cm) 


t/ha 


kg /ha 


15 


0.85 


— 


30 


1.34 


- 


45 


1.41 


127 


60 


1.52 


- 


75 


1.72 


- 


90 


1.72 


221 


15 


1.88 


177 


30 


1.95 


177 


60 


2.17 


238 


90 


2.08 


268 


15 


1.39 


— 


30 


1.39 


- 


60 


1.41 


- 


90 


1.97 


- 


15 


3.07 


132 


30 


3.50 


247 


60 


4.26 


345 


15 


2.94 


— 


30 


4.06 


656 


90 


3.83 


821 


15 


_ 


212 


30 


- 


287 


45 


- 


340 


75 


- 


372 



- 8 - 



Table 6. Seeding rates for crested wheatgrass-alfalfa mixtures in 
various soil zones* 









Row 


Seeding 








spacing 


rate 


Soil zone 


Main use 


Row arrangement 


(cm) 


(kg/ha) 


Brown 


Hay 


Alternate rows 


45-60 


3 


+ 1 




Pasture 


Cross-seeded rows 


90 


3 


+ 1 


Dark Brown 


Hay 


Alternate or same 












rows 


30-45 


5 


+ 2 




Pasture 


Cross-seeded rows 


60 


5 


+ 1 


Black and 


Hay 


Same rows 


30 


7 


+ 3 


Gray Wooded 


Pasture 


Crested wheatgrass 












seeded alone 


30 




7 



*From Saskatchewan Guide to Farm Practice, 1981. 



A handy method of checking seeding rates is to run the drill over 
a hard surface and count the number of seeds falling per metre of run. 
About 50-70 seeds per metre of run usually give a good stand. 



CONTROL OF WEEDS 



Old plants of crested wheatgrass compete well with weeds, but young 
stands are sensitive to competition from weeds or a companion crop. 
This competition may cause low yields of either hay or seed the year 
following seeding. Competition from the companion crop is less severe 
when the seeding rate of the grain crop is reduced to one-half the 
normal seeding rate, and when the cereal is cut early for hay or silage. 

Crested wheatgrass should be 7-10 cm high before it is treated with 
herbicides. Pasturing young stands is undesirable because cattle tend 
to graze the grass and leave the weeds. To control weeds, mowing or 
swathing is preferable to grazing. Old weedy stands being harvested for 
seed should be treated with herbicides before the end of May. For 
perennial weeds, apply herbicides after the seed crop has been taken off. 



- 9 - 



USE FOR HAY 

Crested wheatgrass compares well with other grasses in hay yield and 
hay quality (Fig. 3 and Table 7). The quality of hay, however, declines 
rapidly after heading . At Saskatoon, heading occurs about 10 June, 
and flowering occurs about 1 July. To obtain maximum yield of digestible 
nutrients, it is recommended that crested wheatgrass hay be cut during 
the second or third week of June, i.e., between heading and flowering. 
Crested wheatgrass-alfalfa mixtures may be harvested until 1 July 
without great loss of hay quality. 

Table 7. Dry matter yields and protein content percentages of crested 
wheatgrass compared with other grasses 



Yield of dry matter 
t/ha 



Grass 



Hay 



Pasture 



Hay 



Protein content 
percentage 

Pasture 



Swift Current - single test harvested 1952-56 



Crested wheatgrass 2.3 
Russian wild ryegrass 1.2 



1.4 
1.0 



Saskatoon - three tests 1952-61, each test harvested for 



Crested wheatgrass 3.0 

Russian wild ryegrass 3.0 

Intermediate wheatgrass 3.5 

Brome grass 2.4 



1.8 
2.5 
2.1 
1.8 



Melfort - three tests 1949-56, each test harvested for 



Crested wheatgrass 3.0 

Russian wild ryegrass 2.0 

Intermediate wheatgrass 3.9 

Bromegrass 3.7 



1.9 
1.8 
2.3 
2.2 



7 


.4 


11 


4 


9 


.4 


13 


8 


ed 


for 4 


years 




10 


.3 


15 


8 


10 


.2 


17 


6 


9 


.1 


14. 


9 


11 


.5 


16. 


6 


d : 


Eor 4 


years 




14 


.6 


16 


3 


14 


.7 


18 


4 


13 


.8 


14 


2 


15 


.7 


16 


4 



USE FOR PASTURE 



Crested wheatgrass is used extensively for pasture in the drier parts 
of Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. It is unexcelled for 
early spring pasture. Russian wild ryegrass is also early, but it does 
not provide the volume of production of crested wheatgrass. Crested 
wheatgrass makes most of its seasonal growth and production in the first 
5 or 6 weeks through May and early June. For maximum utilization, 
grazing should be heavy during this early spring period. 



- 10 - 





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Protein content of crested wheatgrass (CWG), 
Russian wild ryegrass (RWR) , and smooth 
broraegrass (BR) . 



Digestibility of crested wheatgrass (CWG), 
Russian wild ryegrass (RWR) , and smooth 
bromegrass (BR) . 



Fig. 3. Seasonal decline in digestibility and protein of 
crested wheatgrass hay compared with other grasses. 



- 11 - 

Crested wheatgrass is an excellent grass to complement native grass 
pasture or rangeland. It produces an abundance of high-quality grass 
before native grasses are ready for grazing. Because of the heavy milk 
flow of cows grazing crested wheatgrass through this May and early June 
period, calves on cows have shown exceptional growth rates. In turn, 
the native grass benefits greatly from deferred grazing. 

In average seasons at Swift Current, about 0.4 ha of crested 
wheatgrass provides 4-6 weeks of good spring grazing for each cow and 
calf. At this location even better production is obtained by cross 
seeding crested wheatgrass to the alfalfa with both the grass and alfalfa 
seeded in rows spaced 90 cm apart. Bloat did not occur at Swift Current 
provided spring grazing commenced when the grass was 10 cm high and 
alfalfa growth had just started. 

Crested wheatgrass often shows poor palatability compared to other 
seeded grasses or native grass. This, however, does not mean it is 
necessarily inferior. What it means is that optimum or maximum 
usefulness of crested wheatgrass requires controlled grazing management 
by fencing. If cattle are confined on crested wheatgrass, they will 
readily accept it as pasture and, in turn, do very well. However, if 
they are given a choice, they will neglect crested wheatgrass and overgraze 
either Russian wild ryegrass or native grass. 

Taint in milk is likely to occur when crested wheatgrass is used for 
early spring grazing. This tainting is not a problem with beef cattle 
where calves only are using the milk. However, with dairy herds it is 
probably best to use Russian wild ryegrass for early spring pasture. 

Concern has sometimes been expressed about the occurrence of 
scattered "stag" plants of crested wheatgrass that are not grazed. 
Actually this is more of a blessing than a curse. Scattered ungrazed 
plants of crested wheatgrass assist in holding drifting snow and result 
in a desirable snowpack for soil moisture buildup. 



RESPONSE TO FERTILIZERS 

Nitrogen fertilizer used on stands of crested wheatgrass that are 3 
years old, or more, will give large yield increases. This is because 
crested wheatgrass grown alone has a high demand on soil nitrogen. After 
only a few years the nitrogen supply in the soil is used up. Without 
nitrogen the plants' growth is limited and they become pale green. This 
is sometimes referred to as a sod-bound condition. This condition is not 
a physical crowding of roots, as the name implies, but simply a symptom of 
an acute lack of nitrogen. 

It has been shown that even in the drier areas, such as at Swift 
Current, crested wheatgrass can take up as much nitrogen as 50-70 kg/ha 



- 12 - 



per year under average to good precipitation. A kilogram of nitrogen 
can, under average to good soil moisture conditions, give an additional 
20 kg of dry matter grass production, although the average may not be 
that high in the Brown soil zone. 

For hay or pasture production the preferred time to apply nitrogen 
fertilizer is in early spring. An application can also be made in late 
fall, but some gaseous loss may occur then if urea or urea-containing 
granular or liquid fertilizers are used. 

Fertilizer nitrogen on nitrogen-deficient stands of crested 
wheatgrass should be applied at about 50 kg/ha. If it is a dry year, 
and consequently not all used, it will remain in the soil for use in the 
next growing season. This is called "residual response" in succeeding 
years. It has been demonstrated that high rates of nitrogen, such as 
200-300 kg/ha, or more, will give residual responses for 4-6 years. 
There is little response by grass to phosphorus fertilizers unless high 
rates of nitrogen are used on an annual basis. Additionally, a 
nitrogen-fertilized field of crested wheatgrass will commence growth 
slightly earlier in the spring than would a nonfertilized field. More 
importantly, it will show an accelerated rate of growth, thus producing 
earlier pasture use. 

In an experiment at Swift Current where liveweight seasonal cattle 
gain was only 17-20 kg/ha on native rangeland, it was 70-80 kg/ha on 
unfertilized crested wheatgrass and 110-120 kg/ha when nitrogen was 
applied at the rate of 50 kg/ha. On grass intended for hay where 1 kg 
of nitrogen costs seventy cents per kilogram and gives 20 kg extra dry 
matter production, then an extra tonne of feed is obtained for an 
expenditure of $35.00 for fertilizer. 



SEED PRODUCTION 

Crested wheatgrass is a good seed producer; yields up to 1000 kg/ha 
have been recorded. Seed yields depend greatly on moisture conditions, 
row spacing, age of stand, and fertilizer application (see Fig. 4, 
Table 8) . 

Rows spaced 60-90 cm apart give more seed than rows spaced 15-30 cm 
apart if stands are left down 3-4 years. Irrigation improves seed 
yields, particularly if fertilizer is also applied. Yields usually 
decline after the second seed crop, but fertilizers help keep yields up. 
Seed yields are often low for the first seed crop if a companion crop 
was used when the grass was seeded. 



- 13 - 



NOT IRRIGATED 



IRRIGATED 



1000 



^ 800 

CO 



J? 600 



y 400 

>- 



200 



ADDED YIELD 
FROM FERTILIZER 



NOT FERTILIZED 



ROW 30cm 
APART 



ROW 91cr 
APART 



ROW 30cm 
APART 



ROW 91cm 
APART 



FL 



1 2345 



1 2345 
AGE OF 



1 2345 
STAND 



1 2345 



Fig. 4. Seed yields of Summit crested wheatgrass, Scott, Sask. 
at narrow- and wide-row spacing, and with and without 
irrigation and fertilization. Fertilizer nitrogen — 50 kg/ha 
per year. Irrigation — 38 cm by sprinkler. 



169 


204 


473 


4 


262 


264 


52 


154 


198 


148 


124 


161 


4 


129 


46 


22 


44 


85 


139 


184 


427 


9 


261 


333 


53 


244 


206 


150 


166 


244 


9 


153 


89 


26 


163 


125 



- 14 - 



Table 8. Effect of fertilizer on seed yields of Summit crested wheatgrass 
at Indian Head, Sask. (Nitrogen applied at the rate of 70 kg/ha each fall) 

Treatment 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 Average 

30-cm spacing 
Fertilized 
Not fertilized 

Three-row group* 
Fertilized 
Not fertilized 

*90-cm space between each three-row group, rows 30 cm apart in the group. 



When seeding crested wheatgrass in rows spaced 90 cm apart, use a 
seeding rate of 2-3 kg/ha. Herbicides should be used to control weeds 
during the year of seeding. In subsequent years, inter-row cultivation 
should be done in the spring and early fall to kill weeds and volunteer 
crested wheatgrass. Inter -row cultivation tends to build up the rows 
above the general field level and this makes it difficult to pick up 
combine swaths. A combination of narrow- and wide-spaced rows will 
provide a strip to lay the swath on and give some yield advantage from 
wide spacings (see Fig. 5). This may consist of three-row groups spaced 
30 cm apart, with 90 cm cultivated strips between these groups. Various 
combinations of rows can be made for various sizes of swathers. 

An alternative method for short-term production is the use of 30-cm 
spaced rows with fairly heavy annual applications of nitrogenous 
fertilizers. 

Swathing is preferable to straight combining because the crop 
shatters easily. Shattering also may occur when picking up the swath. 
Fairway and Parkway shatter more than either Summit or Nordan. Crested 
wheatgrass is usually ready for swathing in late July or the first week in 
August. Heads will be brown and stems still green at this time. The crop 
is ready for swathing when heads shatter a few seeds if struck across the 
palm of one's hand. 

When threshing crested wheatgrass do not feed the machine too heavily. 
Concaves should be set to give a minimum of straw breakage to prevent 
clogging decks and sieves. Reduced cylinder speed with normal forward 
speed will reduce straw breakage. Concave clearance should be just enough 
to break up the heads into separate seeds. If spikelets are not broken up, 
they will be lost in later cleaning. The air blast and adjustable sieve 
should be checked carefully. 



- 15 - 







Fig. 5. Crested wheatgrass sown in three-row groups, 
showing the swath from three groups laid on one group, 



- 16 



Satisfactory cleaning can be done on the farm with the ordinary fanning 
mill. As a guide, the size of the opening in the top sieve should range 
from 1.2 to 2 mm wide and from 6 to 12 mm long. For the bottom sieve, 
round-hole openings 1-1.5 mm in diameter are suggested. 

For maximum returns, seed growers should grow Certified seed of 
named cultivars rather than unnamed common seed. To grow Certified seed 
it is necessary to become a member of the Canadian Seed Growers' 
Association and follow its regulations. The Association handbook, 
Circular 6, states the classes of seed to sow in order to grow Certified 
seed and gives the isolation distances required. To produce Certified 
seed of most cultivars of crested wheatgrass , it is necessary to plant 
Foundation seed. For Nordan, Foundation or Registered seed can be used 
to produce Certified seed. Certified seed fields must be isolated from 
all other crested wheatgrass fields and volunteer plants by 50 m. For 
further details on Certified seed production write to the Canadian Seed 
Growers' Association, Box 8455, Ottawa, Ontario, K1G 3T1. 

Seed yields can be maintained at a higher level by broadcasting 
nitrogen fertilizers (see Fig. 4 and Table 8). There is little response 
to phosphorus fertilizers such as ammonium phosphate 11-48-0. Nitrogen 
at the rate of 30-70 kg/ha is recommended for seed production on Brown 
or Dark Brown soils. This may be increased to 30-90 kg/ha on Black, 
Dark Gray, and Gray Wooded soils, and 40-130 kg/ha for irrigation. Under 
favorable conditions 2-3 kg of additional seed are produced for every 
kilogram of nitrogen applied. 



RENOVATION OF OLD STANDS 

Crested wheatgrass not growing with alfalfa and not fertilized 
usually shows a marked decline in yields after three hay crops (see Table 9) 
Seed yields usually decline more rapidly than hay yields, particularly with 
narrow-row spacings or if there is volunteer growth from shattered seed. 

Crested wheatgrass sod will not recover from plowing as will 
bromegrass sod. Experiments at Swift Current, Sask. , and Mandan, ND, 
showed that attempted rejuvenation of old crested wheatgrass stands, with 
heavy duty cultivators, discers, and Noble blade gave unsatisfactory 
yield responses. In addition, this tillage left the field rough and 
difficult to mow. Best results by far were obtained by leaving the sod 
intact, and applying nitrogen fertilizers. Attempts to incorporate alfalfa 
in newly cultivated crested wheatgrass sod gave poor alfalfa establishment, 
and yields were below those when nitrogen fertilizers were used. 

Herbicides applied in mid-June in combination with fertilizers 
improved yields more than the use of fertilizers alone. High rates of 
2,4-D (acid equivalent 2.8-3.1 kg/ha) low volatile ester were used. 



- 17 - 



Table 9. Hay yields of Fairway crested wheatgrass for various 
ages of stands, tonnes per hectare (no fertilizer applied) 

Age of stand Test 1 Test 2 Test 3 Test 4 

Years 1940-55 1936-43 1937-43 1975-81 Average 



1 




2.0 


2.2 


1.8 


4.9 


2.7 


2 




2.7 


1.1 


3.8 


5.0 


3.2 


3 




3.6 


3.6 


4.9 


2.8 


3.7 


4 




2.0 


3.1 


1.1 


1.9 


2.0 


5 




2.5 


1.1 


1.6 


1.6 


1.7 


6 




0.9 


1.6 


2.2 


0.9 


1.4 


7 




0.4 


1.8 


1.3 


1.0 


1.1 


8 




0.4 


1.1 


- 


- 


- 


9-16 avera 


ge 


0.7 


- 


- 


- 


- 



REGRASSING ABANDONED FARMLAND AND DEPLETED RANGE 

Crested wheatgrass is useful for regrassing farmland and overgrazed 
prairie of the Brown and Dark Brown soil zones. Russian wild ryegrass 
is also adapted for this purpose but establishment is slower than for 
crested wheatgrass, especially on sands. 

If the land has not been out of cultivation long and only annual weeds 
are present, it is not necessary to prepare a seedbed. Seed the grass 
into dead weeds either in the fall or in early spring because this will 
protect seedlings from soil drifting. If perennial weeds are present or 
the soil is hard or badly cracked, some cultivation is desirable. Another 
good practice, wherever perennial weeds are present, is to work the land 
and seed a cereal crop for one season. Crested wheatgrass is then either 
fall seeded or spring seeded into the stubble. This practice is 
recommended where soil drifting is not likely to interfere with the 
establishment of the cereal crop. 

Where native range is overgrazed and weedy, production can be 
improved by seeding to crested wheatgrass. Seeding directly into native 
sod is usually not successful. However, if the soil is sandy and likely 
to drift, it may be necessary to seed the crested wheatgrass without 
previous cultivation. Preparation of a seedbed is usually desirable. 
Seed should be drilled in, although on stony or rough areas the seed may 
have to be broadcast. Broadcasting seed is usually less successful in 
getting stands than drilling. Specially built drills involving heavy 
rollers and press wheels are being used with considerable success in 
seeding newly worked sod in community pastures. Under dry conditions 
crested wheatgrass may take 3 or 4 years to become established. Thin stands, 



- 18 - 



if not overgrazed, will set seed and gradually establish a complete cover 
from volunteer seedlings. 

Surveys of old stands of crested wheatgrass in Western Canada usually 
show some invasion by weeds and native grasses to form stable associations 
with crested wheatgrass. This does not appear to have caused any loss of 
productivity of the crested wheatgrass component. 



LAWNS, YARDS, AND ROADSIDES 

Crested wheatgrass has been used for turf in the Brown soil zone for 
many years. In recent years, Russian wild ryegrass has excelled crested 
wheatgrass as a turf in several respects. It gives a denser cover than 
crested wheatgrass and stays greener in summer. Mixtures of the grasses 
are more suitable than crested wheatgrass alone. The Fairway cultivar of 
crested wheatgrass is best for turf because it is short and persistent. 
On small areas use 1.5 kg of seed per 100 m; on large areas this amount can 
be reduced to 0.5 kg per 100 m. 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

Data from several establishments of the Research Branch, Agriculture 
Canada, were used in the preparation of this bulletin. Information from 
Agriculture Canada establishments at Indian Head, Melfort, Scott, 
Lethbridge, Beaver lodge, and Kamloops were used to complement observations 
made at the Saskatoon and Swift Current research stations. 





CONVERSION FACTORS 






Approximate 






conversion 




Metric units 


factors 


Results in: 


LINEAR 








millimetre (mm) 


X 


0.04 


inch 


centimetre (cm) 


X 


0.39 


inch 


metre (m) 


X 


3.28 


feet 


kilometre (km) 


X 


0.62 


mile 


AREA 








square centimetre (cm 2 ) 


X 


0.15 


square inch 


square metre (m 2 ) 


X 


1.2 


square yards 


square kilometre (km 2 ) 


X 


0.39 


square mile 


hectare (ha) 


X 


2.5 


acres 


VOLUME 








cubic centimetre (cm 3 ) 


X 


0.06 


cubic inch 


cubic metre (m 3 ) 


X 


35.31 


cubic feet 


cubic metre (m 3 ) 


X 


1.31 


cubic yards 


CAPACITY 








litre (L) 


X 


0.035 


cubic foot 


hectolitre (hL) 


X 


22 


gallons 


hectolitre (hL) 


X 


2.5 


bushels 


WEIGHT 








gram (g) 


X 


0.04 


oz avdp 


kilogram (kg) 


X 


2.2 


lb avdp 


tonne (t) 


X 


1.1 


short tons 


AGRICULTURAL 








litres per hectare (L/ha) 


X 


0.089 


gallons per acre 


litres per hectare (L/ha) 


X 


0.357 


quarts per acre 


litres per hectare (L/ha) 


X 


0.71 


pints per acre 


millilitres per hectare (mL/ha) 


X 


0.014 


fl. oz per acre 


tonnes per hectare (t/ha) 


X 


0.45 


tons per acre 


kilograms per hectare (kg/ha) 


X 


0.89 


lb per acre 


grams per hectare (g/ha) 


X 


0.014 


oz avdp per acre 


plants per hectare (plants/ ha) 


X 


0.405 


plants per acre 



630.72 

C75<) 

C 83-18E 

OOAg 

c.3 



Knowles, R. P. (Robert Patrick), 
1919- 
Crested wheatgrass 



LIBRARY , BIBLIOTHEQUE 



AGRICULTURE CANADA OTTAWA K1A 0C5 

3 T073 00000241 2